Indian Society for Certification of Organic Products (ISCOP)
Indian Society for Certification of Organic Products (ISCOP) is an organic certifying (organic certification) body, headquartered in Coimbatore. The company was established in 2003. ISCOP is an independent and separate unit of OASIS, which was set up to promote organic agriculture on a scientific and organised manner with the help of the experienced agricultural scientists.
Prof. Dr. K. K. Krishnamurthi is the president of ISCOP. He had been the Dean of the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore; Director of the UPASI Tea Research Institute, Valparai; Principal and Director of many educational institutions.
The company inspects and certifies organic farms, farm products, inputs like bio-fertilizers, bio-control agents, organic product processing, wild harvests, honey, animal husbandry, and dairy products as per the NPOP norms.
Advantages of Organic Certification
Speaking about the advantages of organic certification, Dr. Krishnamurthi says, “Organic agriculture is environmental friendly, ecological production system that enhances biodiversity, biological cycles and biological activities. It is based on the use of on farm inputs and management practices that restore and maintain ecological harmony.”
He adds, “Organic certification ensures the authentication that the product has been produced using strict norms of NPOP. The consumers are sure that they get a genuine organic product when it is certified by competent certifying bodies as organic. Also organic products fetch a higher price than the one grown conventionally.”
Prerequisites for Certification
The prerequisites of organic certification are that the product should be the result of adopting the NPOP standards of organic production and should be free from any contamination of chemicals such as pesticides and weedicides. “Only after three years of adopting organic production practices, the product is certified as organic,” says Dr. Krishnamurthy.
Apart from agriculture, the company is planning to take up organic certification for animal husbandry, dairy, poultry products, textiles and cosmetics. “We are awaiting clearance from APEDA for taking up the certification of the above products. Apart from agriculture, we are empowered to certify honey, and wild harvests (forest products),” maintains Dr. Krishnamurthy.
The certification process involves the following steps:
- The farmer/operator has to register with ISCOP by filling up an application form with all the relevant details and send it to ISCOP along with the registration fee
2. A suitable and mutually agreeable date is fixed for the inspection of the farm/ input unit
3. An inspection team of ISCOP takes up the detailed and thorough inspection of the farm/unit
4. Inspection report is submitted by the Inspector to ISCOP
5. The report is evaluated by the evaluator and this document is sent to the quality manager
6. The quality manager scrutinizes the records. If there is any non-conformity, the same is communicated to the farmer/operator for closing the same by taking appropriate corrective measures
7. Then it is submitted to the certification committee and the tariff is collected from the farmer/operator
8. The certification committee examines the proposal, and if everything is alright, ISCOP issues the certificate in case of farms and approval in case of input.
The registration fee of ISCOP is Rs. 250. In case of input, the registration fee is Rs. 1000. The travel, boarding and lodging charges of the inspection team visiting the farm/unit for inspection are based on actuals; visiting charges are extra.
The cost of analyses of soil, water and product is also extra. The tariff for the first 5 acres is Rs. 5000. In the case of organic inputs, it is Rs. 15,000 per product. If the products are more, the maximum tariff would be Rs.50,000. It normally takes a month for the issue of the certificate.
Apart from organic certification ISCOP trains those interested to be inspectors. “We organize seminars and exhibitions for disseminating the knowledge about organic agriculture and the advantage of organic certification and food safety,” avers Dr. Krishnamurthy.
Measures to Encourage Organic Farming
Dr. Krishnamurthy maintains India has been very successfully implementing the certification process for the organic products.
However, he suggests, “The central and state governments should focus more interest and attention for the development of organic agriculture.
They should encourage farmers to take up organic farming under the priority item in the overall interest of the safe health of the soil, crops, animals and human beings. Since mixed farming and crop rotation are the hallmarks of organic farming, there should be encouragement for the rearing of cattle and poultry, and enough subsidy and financial assistance extended to the farmers.”
ISCOP has 15 technical and professional members.
It is a no profit no loss society. All the members of ISCOP work voluntarily and honourably without any remuneration. There is one office manager and it employs computer operator on a part-time basis.
NATIONAL PROGRAMME FOR ORGANIC PRODUCTION (NPOP)
The Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) was established by the Government of India under the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority Act passed by the Parliament in December, 1985. The Act (2 of 1986) came into effect from 13th February, 1986 by a notification issued in the Gazette of India: Extraordinary: Part-II